New industry cluster will promote innovation in Milwaukee

The Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC) announced the creation of a new initiative called MiKE (Innovation in Milwaukee), a design, technology and innovation cluster that will serve as a catalytic source for rapid innovation and talent to compete on the world stage.
The cluster will focus on three strategic goals: (1) Develop talent for Innovation; (2) Enhance economic development opportunities for existing companies and start-ups; and (3) Develop future technologies and applications.
The initiative will be guided by a council that is co-chaired by Telvin Jeffries, executive vice president of human resources at Menomonee Falls-based Kohl’s Corp., and Todd Teske, chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based Briggs & Stratton Corp.
The GMC’s partners in the MiKE initiative include Art Milwaukee, BizStarts Milwaukee, Creative Alliance Milwaukee, Spreenkler Talent Labs and the GMC Talent Dividend.
MiKE is funded by a $500,000 grant from ArtPlace, a new initiative of 11 of America’s top foundations working in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts and seven federal agencies. Its aim is to drive revitalization across the country by putting the arts at the center of economic development.
"I think the design cluster could be really big for Milwaukee,” Teske said. “When you look at what’s really important in the world today, innovation is huge. More and more companies need to do it and more and more companies are doing it. This is the kind of effort in which the needs of established businesses can be met through the innovation of new businesses. It’s an organic stimulus package that can pay huge dividends for the local economy."
"One of our region’s greatest resources is its talented workforce which is continuously bolstered by the students graduating from our world-class colleges and universities,” Jeffries said. “The design/tech cluster provides an outstanding opportunity to both leverage these professionals and attract new talent to our region. Milwaukee and southeast Wisconsin have the potential to become a nationally – even internationally –recognized center of innovation. Building this cluster is a significant step in that direction.”
The design, technology and innovation cluster will model the Water Cluster’s commitment to convening regional leadership.
"Similar to our work in developing the Water Cluster, the GMC has formed a business leadership council consisting of CEOs and top level leadership from our manufacturing and global innovation companies to guide the growth of Milwaukee’s new design, technology and innovation cluster,” said Mary Ellen Stanek, chief investment officer at Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Company Inc. and chairman of the Greater Milwaukee Committee. “This high level of corporate commitment will create substantial and sustained value for all stakeholders in the cluster."
MiKE is designed to align the global and advance manufacturing companies in the Milwaukee region with a creative talent pipeline.
“Milwaukee’s manufacturing sector is steeped in history and continues to play a crucial role in our region’s economy,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “With the development of the design and technology cluster, we will capitalize on legacy assets through the combination of traditional resources and innovative talent. The results will be a recognition of Milwaukee as a destination for creative entrepreneurs to start new businesses and find top-notch talent, enhanced job creation among existing companies in the design and technology cluster and a key component in the reinvigoration of a prominent corridor in downtown Milwaukee.”
"Creative talent is the defining competitive mark for our global companies and for our advanced manufacturing sector,” said Julia Taylor, president of the Greater Milwaukee Committee. “MiKE will create an interface between talent, design, and technology that will form a creative hub for jobs and start-ups in the region. The end result will be talent for our companies in the cluster to compete globally and for start-ups to flourish."
The MiKE program will be based in The Shops of Grand Avenue in downtown Milwaukee.

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